Selling Out?

Is being called a sell-out a barrier to using your fannishness, your geekiness, in your career?

There's an odd idea that if you work for a big company (or even if you just make a lot of money), you've somehow compromised yourself.  You've given up on the art, turned what you love into crude cash, etc.  I encounter this idea erratically, but it always seems to be out there.

Part of the reason is, frankly,jealousy – people get jealous of those who succeed at doing what they themselves wish they could do.  Turning someone's success into a mark against them is a way of coping with it – immature as it may be.

Another reason I think is that there's an idea in our culture that somehow making a living (and making money) SOMEHOW has to be separate from what we do for fun except for a select few professions.  J.K. Rowling is allowed to enjoy being an author, but someone like me who is a manager in video games, clearly CANT be having fun at it (I usually am).

I think someone is really only a sell-out if they deliberately give up part of themselves and the principles about what they care about for money.  Getting rich writing a great novel is one thing – writing subpar work because you know your fans will pay through the nose is selling out.  Working for a big company isn't selling out – but is when you do something you don't like to do things you disagree with.

(Sometimes we may find out, sadly, we sold out without knowing it until much later).

There's nothing wrong with success.  There's nothing wrong with making money.  There's even nothing wrong with facing down questions about your career.

It's when you stop caring about what you do and start caring only about the money (or the fame, or the ego boost) that you're a sell out.  In fact, you can sell out on your own without anyone's help.

So stop being afraid of selling out – instead make sure you stick to your principles, ans use your situations to do what you love and deal with what's important to you.

– Steven Savage